20 things that helped me beat depression - Josh Quigley

Josh is travelling around the world to raise awareness of mental health
Josh is travelling around the world to raise awareness of mental health
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After surviving a suicide attempt in May 2015, Josh Quigley is cycling around the world, searching for the meaning of life on his own personal journey to happiness. You can follow his progress on his Tartan Explorer website.

As I’ve shared over the past few days, I’ve made a massive transformation with my mental health and I’m feeling happier than ever.

This hasn’t just happened overnight and has been the result of me changing the way I live my life and putting in a lot of work every day to change the way I feel.

A lot of people have been asking me what has helped and how have I made such an amazing transformation. I just wanted to share a list of the things that have helped me the most.

I must stress that you don’t need to implement all 20 of my suggestions.

These are just a big list of things that have helped me. Some of them may not work for you and some of them you may not agree with.

The big problem with social media is that you compare your inside with everyone else’s outside. So people are posting all these amazing photo’s and updates of how amazing their lives are and you feel terrible and compare your terrible life to their “amazing” one.

Josh Quigley

My advice would be to look at the ones you think appeal to you and maybe even start off by just taking 1 at a time and trying them for a set period of time and seeing what results or impact they have in your life.

I’d be really keen to hear how you get on if you try any of these and also if there is anything else that helps you that I haven’t mentioned I’d love to hear about it.

I’ll list them all and then explain them in more detail.

1. Accepting there is a mental health problem

2. Not blaming other people or external events

3. Taking 100% responsibility for changing how I felt

4. Making a cast iron commitment to change

5. Happiness > Success

6. Auditing my life

7. Changing how I lived my life

8. Education and Reading

9. Purpose

10. Gratitude

11. Learning to love myself again

12. Following my dream

13. Non attachment with my mind

14. Avoiding drugs and alcohol

15. Exercising daily

16. Meditation

17. Travel

18. Avoiding social media

19. My morning and evening routine

20. Writing a daily diary

1. Accepting their is a problem

The first thing I had to do was accept that I did have a problem and I was suffering with a mental illness.

For years I actually denied that I did suffer with depression and I can remember a close friend saying “Josh, it sounds like you are suffering with depression” and I was adamant I wasn’t as I thought I was “successful” and there was no way I could possibly have depression.

This was back before I knew anything about mental health and I still seen it as taboo and I didn’t think that I could possibly have depression.

I’ve since learned that suffering with a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and this illness can affect anyone.

Depression doesn’t care how ‘successful’ you are or how much money you have. It affects millions of people all around the world, including the rich and famous.

So the first step to recovery is admitting that there is in fact a problem and that you do have a mental illness. Because if you don’t accept that it exists then you can’t do anything to prevent it.

2. Not blaming other people or external events

We’ve all suffered negative events in our life or had people harm us or negatively impact us in some way.

That’s just life.

But these people or events can’t influence how we feel. It’s only our response to these events or situations that determine how we feel.

As Jack Canfield says in his book Success Principles, Event + Your Reaction = Outcome.

I can remember telling someone if that event never happened, or if this event never happened then I would feel fine and wouldn’t suffer like I did.

But that’s just a way of deflecting from the real issue.

So you have to accept that no one can do anything to you.

It’s quite hard to accept at first because there are people who have been through really tough situations and they have always attributed these events to how they feel and letting go of that can be hard at first.

But in my experience once I did that it really helped me take back control of how I feel.

3. Taking 100% responsibility for how changing how I felt.

When you stop blaming other people or external events something really special happens.

You get to take back control of your life and take 100% accountability for changing how you feel.

If it’s 100% up to you how you feel then it means that it’s 100% up to you how you feel in the future.

How empowering is that?

Everything you need to change and feel better is within you.

It’s not to say that anyone consciously or willingly chooses to suffer with depression.

I’m not saying that.

It’s done unconsciously.

You don’t know you are doing it.

But once you take back control and accountability you can start to consciously take control of your mind and change the way you feel.

4. Making a cast iron commitment to change

After taking back full responsibility for how I felt, I then decided to make a commitment to myself that I was going to do everything within my power to change.

No matter how much hard work I had to put in I was going to do it because I was sick and tired of feeling so low.

I was now ready to put in the work and do everything within my power to stop suffering with depression.

5. Happiness > Success

For years and years I chased success. Success was my number 1 goal.

But at what cost?

My happiness.

I was chasing success over what actually made me happy.

So deciding to do what made me happy was a game changer for me.

Every day I made decisions and done things in my life that would lead to me feeling the happiest.

What is it that really makes me happy and how can I do things every day that help me feel happy?

It’s about making happiness your main goal.

The main goal of my life now is to be happy.

And I now do things every day that help me get towards that goal.

6. Auditing my life

I then had to do a full audit of my life.

What was I doing for a living? Where was I spending my time? Who was I spending my time with? What was I doing for fun? What was I doing to relax? How much was I exercising? What was I eating and drinking?

How much work was I putting into changing how I felt?

Basically looking at every area of my life.

My audit

Career- Not happy anymore, this isn’t what I want to do with my life.

Exercise — Not exercising at all

Nutrition/Diet — Not eating healthy, drinking a lot, taking drugs,

How spending my time — In the pub, drinking and takings drugs

So you see it was really easy for me to see that I wasn’t living my life the best way possible and I was directly responsible for how I felt.

7. Changing how I lived my life

I decided to make massive changes in every area of my life.

I knew I wasn’t happy with what I was doing for a living, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and knew I wanted to get away and travel for a bit so came up with the idea of the Tartan Explorer and started working towards that.

I stopped drinking and taking drugs, started exercising, eating healthily and made my health a top priority.

I now spent the majority of my time exercising, reading and travelling and I feel so much better for it.

It’s all about putting in the hard work and spending the necessary time on things that will help you feel better.

8. Education and Reading

There are hundreds of books out there on mental health, happiness, mindfulness, meditation and mind management.

I knew that everything I needed to know to change how I felt was within these books so I decided to start spending a lot of my time reading these books.

The Art of Happiness and The Power of Now are the 2 books that I would say have had the single biggest impact and are probably the main reasons I feel as good as I do now.

I only spent £13 on these on Amazon, I could spend that in an hour in the pub.

Or I could spend it on books and massively transform my life.

What about that for return on investment?

All the knowlegde you need to beat depression is contained within these books.

You just need to make it a priority to read them and then put in the work to implement what you learn. It’s really that simple.

Who doesn’t have £6 for a book?

Who doesn’t have 1 hour each night to dedicate to reading?

Everyone wants to feel better, but who wants to put in the work to actually feel better?

I now spend at least 1 or 2 hours each day reading and I’m learning so much.

Reading is by far one of the most important things I do every day and the thing I probably prioritise the most.

9. Purpose

Finding my purpose was crucial.

In the past I felt like I had no reason to be here.

If I wasn’t here then it wouldn’t matter.

But now with the Tartan Explorer I feel like I have a real reason to be on this earth and I need to tell the world my story and help others who have suffered like I have.

Not everyone will have a purpose like mine.

You just need to find what works for you and what it important to you.

Think about what you are passionate about and how can use your passion to find your purpose.

If you are passionate about working with kids, make your purpose to ensure that every kid you work with had the best start or education in life.

If you are a nurse, make your purpose to ensure that your patients receive the best care at all possible times.

It has to be something that makes you want to get up in the morning and keeps you going in tough times and reminds you why you are doing what you do.

10. Gratitude

Feeling grateful for the life you have is one of the best ways to instantly feel better and change how you feel.

Every day I try to feel grateful for many things.

I’m first of all grateful for my life. I came so close to losing it and I start of by expressing gratitude that I am alive.

I then express Gratitude for my health and my happiness, that I feel so fit and healthy and that I feel as happy as I do.

Then for the people who support what I do, my friends and family and finally for the amazing opportunities that I am presented with in my life.

This only needs to take a few minutes in the morning. Take some time at the start of the day or the end of the day to express gratitude and think of all things you are grateful in your life.

If I am ever feeling low or tired on the bike I instantly start to think about all the things that I am grateful for and it really helps.

You don’t need to have as many as me, just one will do.

I would challenge anyone that says they don’t have anything to be grateful about.

11. Learning to love myself again

You need to have love for yourself .

If you can’t love yourself then how can you expect others to?

Over the last couple of years I really hated myself for things that I did and people that I hurt.

But I couldn’t go on like that forever.

I had to finally forgive myself and start thinking positively of myself again.

I’ve always been a very confident and ambitious individual, but I lost myself for a couple of years there.

I now try to focus on all the strengths and qualities that I have really appreciate who I am as a person.

A lot of people don’t like someone who is confident and willing to talk up their self, but you need to do it.

Loving yourself is the first step to having love for others.

12. Following my dream

9 months ago I had a dream, a dream to go around the world, to get away from home for a bit and really find myself. I’m now living that dream.

Everyone has hopes and dreams.

You can’t be scared to go for it and really do what you’ve always wanted to do.

You only get one life.

One chance.

One opportunity to do what you really want to do.

You don’t want to be lying on your death bed saying “I wish I”

So whatever it is you dream about doing, just go for it.

You have nothing to lose.

You’ve went your whole life without it, so if it doesn’t work then you already know what it feels like to not have it.

What the hell is stopping you?

13. Non attachment with my mind

You are not your mind.

This is one of the most important things I learned reading up on mental health.

Your mind has millions of thoughts each day, but they are not you.

Don’t let yourself be overpowered by your mind and your thoughts.

Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings.

If you think more positive thoughts then you’ll feel more positively.

In the past I used to have a thought about suicide, I would let this thought develop in my mind and it would lead to me feeling suicidal.

Now If suicide every pops into my head I acknowledge that is a thought and try to understand why that thought appeared and then accept that it is just a thought and not how I actually feel.

Try to become a watcher of your mind.

Watch your thoughts as if they are not you, as if they are external.

Don’t become attached to your mind and think that if you think of suicide then you need to feel suicidal.

There’s a huge difference between thinking of suicide and feeling suicidal. Don’t let the thought become the feeling.

Accept there is a negative thought in your mind and then try to replace it with a positive thought which leads to a positive feeling within your body.

14. Avoiding Drugs and Alcohol

This one is a no-brainer really.

For years and years I abused my body with drugs and alcohol and it left me feeling absolutely terrible a lot of the time.

I’m not absolutely off alcohol these days, I think it’s all about balance.

I don’t take drugs anymore and I’ve drunk twice in the last 2 months.

I personally feel so much better when not drinking and prefer not to drink now, except for special occasions.

Because when I don’t drink I have so much time to do other things which also help. It’s the double positive effect of not drinking alcohol.

I instead spend the time exercising, reading or doing other more enjoyable things.

Then the following day I’m not hungover and have another full day where I can do things that help me feeling happier.

15. Exercising daily

Cycling is my new passion and I love it so much.

Not only does it make me feel better physically and mentally, I also really love it and I enjoy my time cycling rather than out in the pub.

Not everyone is going to cycle around the world I know, but doing some form of exercise is so beneficial.

My best advice would be to try and find a sport or exercise that you really love.

So many people think right this is it, I’m going to be healthy.

They join a Gym, go along and try and run on the treadmill every night, hate it, decide exercise isn’t for them and don’t ever bother again.

Find something that is actually fun to do.

It could be Zumba class, tennis, badminton or a walk with friends.

It doesn’t matter what you do.

Just try get outside and do some form of exercise.

The benefits to your physical, mental and emotional health are amazing.

16. Meditation

Whenever you tell someone you meditate, a lot of people instantly get images of Zen masters in Asia sitting in temples or of some crazy hippies altering their mind.

Meditation is not like that. It’s just a very simple little exercise you can do that really helps calm your thoughts and bring peace to your mind.

Doing 5 or 10 minutes a day in the morning or at night can really help and it’s something that has helped me massively.

Check out Headspace, an app you can download for your phone which makes meditation easy and simple.

17. Travel

Travelling is one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve ever had

Seeing new places, meeting new people and generally broadening your horizons is one of the greatest ways to feel happier in yourself.

But everyone thinks that travel is really expensive and that they could never possibly travel the world.

This is actually the biggest myth about travelling in my opinion.

I’m currently living off around £1–3 a day travelling around Europe and feeling happier than ever.

I worked for 9 months with basically no income and saving everything to be able to travel like I do now.

If most people decided to start saving all their wages for 9 months you would have a lot of money to travel for at least a year. So anyone can travel. It just depends how much priority you put on it.

Do you want to save money to go travelling?

Or do you want to buy a fancy Starbucks coffee each day? Or get your hair done every 6 weeks? Or go on 2 nights out a week?

It’s all about priorities and what you choose to prioritise.

18. Avoiding social media and the mainstream media

I’m the first to admit that I had a serious addiction to my phone. As soon as I woke up, as soon as I had a break, anytime possible really I’d love nothing more than to sit on my phone scrolling through timelines and newsfeed on social media.

It’s like a drug and I knew I had to break this habit as it seriously wasn’t helping me or making me feel any better.

No one ever comes off Facebook feeling better than before they went on it do they? Not in my experience.

The big problem with social media is that you compare your inside with everyone else’s outside.

So people are posting all these amazing photo’s and updates of how amazing their lives are and you feel terrible and compare your terrible life to their “amazing” one.

I’m a huge fan of social media in general and love how you can reach people all over the world, but sometimes you have to take a break from it and be more selective with your use. Now I don’t use it all, I’m being pretty extreme as I try to break the habit. But I would advise trying to be more selective with your time on it.

Either only going on once a day, or searching for people you are genuinely interested in rather than mindless scrolling through the newsfeed.

19. My morning and evening routine

Before going to bed, and first thing in the morning there are certain things I do that really help me.

More important actually is things that I don’t do. Avoiding my phone is so important. Each night I try to wind down by reading or even just have some time on my own with my own thoughts, reflecting on my day or thinking about my plans for the following day.

Since doing this I’ve started sleeping much better and feeling so much better in the morning as a result.

In the morning when I wake up , I again avoid my phone and try to just have some time to myself. Lying in bed thinking to myself, gathering my thoughts, thinking about the day ahead and trying to be as positive as possible.

One thing that’s really helped recently is every day when I wake up in the morning saying to myself

“Today is going to be the best day ever”

Or alternatively another one on the other side of the spectrum is to imagine to myself that this is my last day on Earth.

It makes you really appreciate the day ahead of you and grab it for all its got.

20. Writing a daily diary

Each day I now write a daily journal or diary style memoir of what’s happened each day, how I’ve felt, what I’ve learned and anything else that occurs that day.

I’ve kept this one for last as it’s a really special one for me and the one I’m having the most fun with.

I never knew how much I loved writing and the emotional and mental benefits are incredible.

Just getting your thoughts out of your head and down on to paper is so liberating and can often make the most extreme of thoughts seem pretty rational once you can see them in front of you.

What’s better, you can start to notice patterns and realise what’s working and what is not.

For example I noticed a couple of times I felt a bit lower than usual and more negative thoughts than I’d been having.

Through my diary I was able to identify all these times happened after I’d been drinking.

Me and alcohol just don’t seem to agree with each other and it’s one of the reasons I avoid it as much as possible now.

But I was only able to see this pattern through my writing.

In the past I would have just thought ‘aw here it goes again’, feeling worse than usual and would then just think myself into a worse mood than I was actually in.

So writing has been a great experience for me and I’m loving that I can express my thoughts and feelings in a different way. So what I thought was going to be quite a short list based blog actually turned into a very long and lengthy piece.

But I think there is some really good information in here that can be of value to others.

These are some of the main things that are helping me.

Again I’d love to hear what helps you or if you have any questions on any of the points mentioned above don’t hesitate to comment below or message me directly and I’d be more than happy to help in any way I can.

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